There are always reasons for being cheery at this time of the year. The calendar is complete and a new cycle is beginning. The sun has gone as low as it will and is going back the other way.
There are reasons to be gloomy if you let them get to you. Ahead is a couple of months of cold weather and short days. Or it is if you are in roughly the same latitude as me.
It is said that many people who lead a solitary lifestyle get very depressed around this time. It is the season for suicides. I am actually relieved that I do not have to bother about anyone else around this time.
When I was younger and lived in the same time zone as most of my relatives, and more of them were still speaking to me; that was when I found Christmas time more depressing. “Hell is other people” said old Sartre and my family is a good illustration of exactly what he meant by that. Most of them are unable to examine themselves by the severe standards they apply to everyone else.
That does not mean I have given up on them. I still fly every few years and visit some bunch of them. I do not do it around Christmas time when everyone is trying so hard to keep things from exploding. I exchange phone calls and letters with a few of the older and wiser ones and can keep track of most of them, even the ones who think I am a big family disgrace.
I have largely run out of friends closer to home, ever since I stopped being involved in political stuff. Many of them have just moved out of Toronto or died. Some have decided, like me, to just live quietly, staying in touch by occasional e-mails.
There are people in my building and neighbourhood I meet in the hallways or the street and stop to chat about it all. But all in all, I think the internet is a pretty good way of staying in contact with the world for older people, especially in this time of The Virus. It may not be so great for younger people who have not given up yet on comparing themselves to others.
I think the key to leading a good life is to have the means to live comfortably without having to deal with people except on one’s own conditions. I have a pretty good place to live and no shortage of money. So you understand why I am a proponent of a basic income when linked to a socialist economy.
The centrality of having good housing and enough money, to being able to live a good life, is the theme I am working into here, dear internet. That becomes especially clear in this plague time. Yes it is a plague, as destructive to human societies as Ye Plagues of Olden Tymes.
As in plagues of old, people having the means to isolate themselves is the key to eliminating it. It is a sad indication of the state of our present society that, despite the apparent material abundance, so many people are unable to protect themselves and their families adequately.
I think it is that once these needs are met, dear internet, then you become something really useful. Used right, you are a great way to reach out to the world. I can develop interesting connections with people halfway around the world, free of any obligations.
For example, there is a blogger in Australia whose ideas sometimes inspire my own blogging efforts. We have had some limited exchanges. I became concerned about her housing problem.
I am glad to hear that she has solved it. She and her family were in some run down housing unit and frequently objecting to the existence of landlords. She had a beg bug problem.
Then she got an eviction notice. They had decided to knock her place down to build something swanky. So people all over the planet were following her travails as she hunted for housing in a city with a housing problem to rival anywhere on earth.
Due to a “stack of miracles” she found a place she could afford and is happy with. She is moving in. Sighs of relief all over mother earth for the Australian lady.
I am in the middle of a housing crisis of my own, though much less serious. Basically, this very nice building run by a non profit housing authority has again developed a problem with illegal and antisocial activities. So the resident’s committee is being revived despite the problems covid presents to organizing.
The covid crisis has put a lot of people out on the street here in Toronto the Good. TCH has been under pressure to take some of them in without the usual screening process. As usual when this happens we get trouble.
This was a good building and we have to get it back. We are making clear that the drug peddler and the fire starting schizo have to go. I am much involved in this.
However, I fully appreciate that our housing problems are trivial compared with the people living in tents hidden behind the bushes in the park nearby. Imagine what it is like living in a tent in Canada in December, Aussie Lady, and with the police driving you out every other week. Not like in the tropics in Australia where I guess you could just go live under a coconut tree.
I have talked with some of them. One in particular really deserves something better. We wrote a letter to the councillor asking why we can’t have someone like him as a neighbour instead of all these antisocial types. We lost contact with him when the police moved him on again.
I have a lot of empathy for homeless people. I was homeless myself at various points when I was younger; fortunately not for very long. I haven’t had to move since 2004 and I do not expect to until they wheel me out to the care home.
To conclude, internet, if you are looking for the secret of happiness, having a good place to live and enough money is about 90% of it. Relationships are somewhat optional. To all who find reasons to follow my bloggings from exotic places from China to Brazil, a happy Christmas or end of year.